The Colloquium in Philosophy and Education ☆

Students, faculty and guests of the program.

A long-standing element of its academic program, the Colloquium in Philosophy and Education is rooted in the centuries-old tradition of Philosophy as an academic discipline.  The Colloquium represents a chance for students to experience a variety of perspectives that will help them examine such questions and concepts as “what is justice?” or “what does it mean to be an educated person?”

“For Philosophy to flourish you must have a powerful diversity of ideas, of questioning and of points of view.  We’re simply doing what has been done for a long time, ” is how David Hansen, Professor of Philosophy and Education, puts the Colloquium in context.  With a goal of providing access to esteemed colleagues across academia, Hansen, along with Philosophy and Education Associate Professor Megan Laverty, invites scholars from around the world to participate in about 14 colloquia throughout the academic year.  “It’s a way to bring our field to Teachers College, literally speaking,” he explains.  This semester’s guests included Claudia Ruitenberg from the University of British Columbia and Philip W. Jackson from the University of Chicago.  November 17th’s session was a launch for “The Teacher and the World: A Study of Cosmopolitanism as Education,” Hansen’s new book which describes how education can address both the challenges and opportunities presented by a globalized world.

The Philosophy Colloquium also acts as a forum for Ph.D. students who’ve completed their dissertation to give a formal presentation to the community. Such a session (which consists of an introduction, a lecture and a discussion period) is a rite of passage as the presenting student sits in a chair reserved for faculty visitors.  “It’s a wonderful, signature closing moment in a Ph.D. student’s career,” Hansen explains.

Philosophy and Education Ph.D. student Cara Furman helps organize the Colloquium and cites community building as an asset.   “The Colloquium builds a sense of cohesiveness within the department. We all bring different interests and the Colloquium gives us a shared experience and a place where students at many levels in their career may interact.  People come to this program for many great reasons, and our sense of community is certainly an added draw.”   Furman cites the small, informal suppers with students and the visiting scholar as a nice extension of this spirit; ideally, every student in the program attends at least one dinner before they graduate.  Furman expands on the importance of mixing Ph.D. and Master’s students in the program:  “We all really value making discussion accessible at whatever level people are studying Philosophy.”